The State Of The Race For My Support

Speaking for me only

My title is facetious. No one is trying to get my support. But the race starts in earnest today and I will support someone in the Dem primary race. Right now, my weak support goes to Barack Obama, with Chris Dodd as my second choice.

What am I looking for in a candidate? First of all, support and leadership on the issues that mean the most to me.

Iraq is the most important issue to me. Barack Obama opposed the Iraq Debacle while all the other leading candidates supported it. (I know, I know, they didn't vote for the war they say. Sorry, they did.) This is a big thing. The problem is what about now? Throughout his Senatorial tenure, Barack Obama has been quite weak in his opposition to the Debacle and has not strongly supported actions by the Congress to end it until recently. He said the Congress should not play chicken with the President on Iraq. It was a terrible moment for him. By contrast, Chris Dodd has been leading on Iraq, calling for Congressional action to not fund the Debacle without a date certain for ending our involvement in the Iraq Debacle. Clinton has largely tracked Obama's path on this -the weak path, also until recently. John Edwards has offered strong rhetoric. Bill Richardson has distracted with a phony argument about "residual troops." On this point, a very important one, advantage Dodd. Among the Big 3, Edwards has been the best of late. But Obama got it right in the beginning. Clinton lags.


On Iran, Clinton gets a huge demerit for voting for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment. Of course, too many people have falsely argued that K-L is some type of authorization for military action against Iran. It is not. But it was a foolish vote as it does buttress arguments from Bush-Cheney and the neocons for military action against Iran. Obama missed the vote and has sponsored similar resolutions in the past. Nothing positive there for Obama. Dodd voted against K-L but also sponsored similar resolutions in the past. Better than Obama but not much. Edwards has again been rhetorically strong on this issue.

Advantage Edwards.

On FISA, Senator Dodd has knocked this issue out of the park. While Clinton, Obama and Biden joined Dodd's lead, and Edwards was again strong rhetorically, there can be no doubt that Senator Dodd showed leadership, strength and wisdom on this most important issue. Big win for Dodd.

On health care, I am not expert enough to be able to analyze the various plans submitted by the candidates. But I am not one who puts much stock in 18 point plans. They do not survive elections. On rhetoric and commitment, I can not find anything to choose from among them. It is said that Edwards opened the door wide open by issuing his plan first. I think that thought has a lot of merit. Therefore, advantage Edwards.

On climate change, again I am not expert, and not a big believer in 18 point plans, though some experts have given Clinton the highest marks. On rhetoric, the winner is Al Gore. He's not running. I call this one a tie.

On immigration, the plans are not the thing as they REALLY will not survive the election. To me the most important aspect of this was a willingness to reject the basest instincts on this issue. On this, Barack Obama wins hands down. He embraced Spitzer's plan on drivers licenses for undocumented aliens and did not back down from that even though his answer in the LV debate was pathetically bad. Edwards tried to use the issue as a cudgel against Hillary Clinton, who had the second worst performance of all, by abandoning the right position in favor because of political considerations. Dodd was the worst on this. His rejection of the Spitzer plan was nonsensical and played to the basest natures.

Big win for Obama on this issue.

On civil rights, these are all good Democrats and will fight hard for civil rights. There simply is no doubt in my mind about that. It is worth noting Obama's horrible peroformance with regard to Donnie McClurkin. It seems fair to me that gay Americans have doubts about Obama as a result. I can not say that I do.

On trade, I am a Rubin Democrat. I believe Barack Obama, in spite of the political advantage that could have been garnered, has proven the strongest. Clinton has equivocated and due to the Clinton Administration's stellar record on trade, can not go as far as she no doubt would to be Gephardt-like on trade. Edwards is just plain wrong on this issue. Dodd is good on trade as is biden and Richardson. There is a clear contrast here between Edwards and the rest of the pack. It is why people like David Sirota are so in favor of Edwards. It is one of the major reasons I am not.

On social security, Edwards and Obama have totally bungles the issue politically while Hillary Clinton has handled it perfectly. Social Security is mostly about atmospherics, not policy. There is little challenging about Social Security policy. Obama has played to the Beltway elite. Edwards has made character attacks on Clinton on it, using GOP frames.

Big winner on this issue, Hillary Clinton. Big losers, both Obama and Edwards.

Finally, an important political consideration for me is political style and rhetoric. As I have written for some time, Obama has a serious problem here. That said, he has gotten much better. He is fighting Republicans a lot more now. And unlike John Edwards, who in fact was demonstrating the finest political rhetoric in this campaign until recently, Obama is reticent about using GOP language to attack Hillary Clinton. His attacks are more substantive at times. And he attacks less. Dodd decided a month ago to become a hilary attack machine but seems to have abruptly stopped this.

Let's be clear, criticizng Hillary Clinton will be and MUST be done by all who are challenging her. There is plenty to criticize. But character attacks using GOP language has to be out of the picture. Personally, Edwards has lost any chance of garnering my support because of his decision to become a Hillary character attack machine. Perhaps he will end this phase of his campaign because all he is doing is helping Obama and hurting himself. We'll see.

Finally, the most important issue in the General Election to me will be the Supreme Court. I have confidence in all of the candidates on this score.

Right now, I have a slight lean towards Obama with my heart wanting me to support Dodd. Of course, the campaign starts in earnest now. Let's see what they do.

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    Nice summary (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by dthurston on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 10:51:57 AM EST
    Thanks for the nice, substantive rundown of the issues.  It's a nice change from the horse-race reporting that dominates the media.

    My issues (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Alien Abductee on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 02:47:56 PM EST
    Foreign policy: Obama's approach will be transformative, engaged, and positive. Clinton's will be hawklike though not reckless - the folks at TNR will be happy. The others (except for Kucinich) will all follow that conventional thinking, though Edwards will be more focused on domestic issues.

    Iraq: I agree with your assessment

    Militarization of the US economy: Hillary will continue it, Edwards may slow it and reprioritize to some extent in favor of bread and butter concerns. Only Kucinich would take the hatchet that's needed to military buildup. Good luck Dennis.

    Health care: Only Kucinich has the right idea. Clinton's is the worst.

    Trade: Edwards. I hate lobbyist-written trade agreements. Trade is good, but not deals that benefit corporations and disempower workers and reduce people's control over protecting their local environment.

    Environment: They all have some good ideas. Obama's seem to me the most visionary, supporting research to shift the economy to more green, plus tying it to foreign policy. Kucinich's positions on Kyoto etc are pure but unrealistic imo.

    Restoration of constitutional rights: Dodd has led on this, Kucinich is trying to. Obama is supporting Dodd's efforts. Hillary doesn't seem to put a high priority on it, like the rest.

    Ability of the candidate to deliver on what they promise: I have the most confidence in Clinton and Dodd; the rest, I have my doubts.

    Trying to sort through all those conflicting evaluations and weigh their relative values leaves me still unclear who I support at this point. They all have major pluses and even more major negatives to me.

    If I had to vote today, I suppose I'd choose Obama, because of the positivity and promise of taking a fresh look at old certainties that he frames his approach with. But there is a strong pull toward Edwards because of trade and his progressive take domestically, but I don't like him and don't trust him, and think his political sense is poor and often leads him astray. Hillary I like because she takes no sh*t and will get things done - the only problem being I'm not quite on board with some of the things I think she'll get done.

    Kucinich's Single-payer plan (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Natal on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 04:26:06 PM EST
    Canada is single-payer and here's the reason why:

    "The overhead cost of operating the United States health-care system is more than three times that of running Canada's on a per capita basis, and the gap is getting bigger, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine."

    Here we have a working model of what Kucinich is proposing right next door in Canada. It's successful. It's been tested for forty years and the kinks worked out. And every down and out homeless person and child is covered as is the rest of the population. The plans suggested by Clinton, Obama and Edwards have never been implemented anywhere. And the media marginalizes Kucinich as being out-to-lunch.


    I'm with Obama (none / 0) (#2)
    by zaczaca on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 11:19:45 AM EST
    I had to take a little time once Clark endorsed Clinton just to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I respect his judgment usually, but I wasn't swayed. The funny thing is I see more of Wes Clark in Obama than in any other candidate, just to note an oddity. The main reason, although not the only reason, I support Obama is because I do believe the foreign policy establishment needs a swift kick after getting it so unbelievably wrong in 2002. I wouldn't give my primary vote to any candidate who got it wrong even though I respect most of them in a general way and can find much to recommend them. I just don't think they've earned it. I don't think anybody who voted for the war should be rewarded with the presidency.

    Carter (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 11:45:01 AM EST
    I think you give Obama the benefit of the doubt. Presidential candidates, however, are not on trial and doubt is not a fitting approach.

    I don't see Obama leading on anything except on pretending to be leading. Furthermore, his views are almost identical to Hillary's except in their presentation He does fall short on health care and like almost everyone else has not taken a strong stance on immigration.

    Lately, I started to feel that Obama reminds me of Carter, a mixed message that dazzles many because he is opposed by a rather average candidate. Once carter is more than enough.

    It's too bad that Edwards has such an incompetent campaign machine; he would have made a great candidate.

    Having trouble with Clinton (none / 0) (#4)
    by magster on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 12:24:52 PM EST
    I have not participated in Hillary bashing, and have been defending her based on how Bill Clinton's presidency was like the Enlightenment.  Plus, you can see tons of IQ points in her eyes.

    But as the time draws near, the whole political dynasty thing of nothing but Bushes and Clintons for 28 years disturbs me. I'd rather see someone else nominated, and Obama is the only one with a chance.

    I think (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 12:43:25 PM EST
    on the issues, I am closest to Obama.

    So that is why I support him, but weakly. His political style is atrocious imo.


    Ok. (none / 0) (#5)
    by masslib on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 12:27:53 PM EST
    On Iraq, well, yes, Obama spoke out against the war, while Hillary voted for AUMF.  But, I think Obama in his zeal to point out his superior judgement has conceded the point that Bush completely mismanaged the war.  On health care, Hillary has been for universal coverage since the early '90's.  She's considered a health policy expert.  And, bottom line, her policy is better framed for a general election than Edwards. On trade, well, she is less of a free trader than Bill Clinton (and perhaps Obama, though they have identical records thus far) but that isn't actually new for her.  She was opposed to NAFTA initially, and one of the first studies she commissioned as a Senator found that Canada was not holding to it's commitments with NAFTA in it's treatment of NY apple farmers.  She's more fair trade than Bill Clinton, but she's still pro-trade.  Further, she understands that what we have to do to help people feel less anxious about trade is to grow jobs at home, which I think is a factor in how she's framed her energy plan.  

    On trade (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 12:42:28 PM EST
    You argue a point that makes Hillary LESS attractive to me.

    question... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by selise on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 02:56:34 PM EST
    are you ever going to explain your support of nafta with some data/evidence? do you think it's been good for more people than it's harmed? where's the evidence? or is it a faith-based belief that is supported by ideology and not reason?

    my impression of your writing is that you try be pretty empircally based in your reasoning - so this one really has me stumped. wish you would give it some more discussion and engage on the issues that have been brought up in the comments (i won't repeat myself here unless requested).


    That's a good idea (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 05:22:14 PM EST
    You really seem willing to engage the issue.

    Generally, I just get epithets directed at me.

    I will make a project of it and write some comprehensive.


    I would be interested to read it (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 06:10:23 PM EST
    great - thanks! (none / 0) (#20)
    by selise on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 07:46:59 PM EST
    i can do epithets too (joking).

    of course, i think i can convince you.... but you may very well end up convincing me. looking forward to the discussion. thank you for taking the request seriously!


    I really don't care. I just don't think (none / 0) (#8)
    by masslib on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 12:48:44 PM EST
    she has equivicated.  She supports trade, but not totally unfettered trade, and not if the rules are not applied fairly.  If that makes her unattractive to you, so be it.  Rubin endorsed her incidently.  

    Of course he did (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 01:04:02 PM EST
    Which gives me comfort.

    I'm sorry, why do you need comfort? (none / 0) (#10)
    by masslib on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 01:07:13 PM EST
    She's clearly not anti-trade.  She's just a bit more fair trade than Bill Clinton, as is Obama(atleast as his record suggests).  

    How is Hillary considered a (none / 0) (#14)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 03:30:57 PM EST
    health policy expert?

    Civil and Human Rights are the most imp issue (none / 0) (#11)
    by lilybart on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 02:06:33 PM EST
    along with the Rule of Law and defense of the Constitution, for me and I think it should be everyone's since it affects the Iraq decisions that have so harmed this country.

    Obama is my choice of the frontrunners in both parties.

    How is Edwards attcking Hillary's character? (none / 0) (#17)
    by pioneer111 on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 05:29:54 PM EST
    Edwards is pointing out Hillary's tendency to obfuscate and take both sides of an argument in order not to reveal her position.  That imho is a valid criticism. Further, the whole brouhaha was started by the Clinton campaign with their video of the Politics of Pile On.  He also is being clear about the differences that they have on Iraq and Iran.  To me that is very important and has put the issues out there for discussion.  It would be great if the media would do its job and report on the differences but they aren't.  Edwards has been the best to reframe issues.  This is important in leadership. He has set the agenda for the Democratic primary in ways not seen for a long time.  

    He may not have your support re trade and other issues and I can understand that.  I don't agree but I understand.  However I think he is walking the line carefully with critical analysis and still trying to be positive.  His ads are positive.  Obama frankly improved his performance once he started to be critical, except I agree with you that Social Security is the wrong issue.  

    BTW Edwards is much stronger on environmental issues.  He finally got that it is a crisis unfolding before our eyes.  That is why he has been endorsed by FoE Action and highly praised by other environmental groups.  

    Also his focus on poverty and the shrinking middle class has been quite remarkeable and commendable.  I am so impressed by his returning to NOLA over and over.  His policies have a holistic pattern with a vision for a much better America.

    Clinton called Edwards criticism mudslinging but said she would welcome criticism on policy, yet that is what he criticized her for.  

    I like Edwards trial lawyer persona for these times.  he would take the Republicans apart.  I would like to see Obama after a few years with Edwards.  He might be outstanding then.  I like Obama but he is not who we need at this time.  

    Edwards has no choice but to try to find a way to penetrate the media buzz for the two "front runners".  I think he is doing the right thing. Will it work?  I hope so but I don't know.

    Suuure (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 05:34:54 PM EST
    That's not a character attack. Indeed, that is not a HYPOCRITICAL character attack.

    I am sorry but you simply have blonders on when it comes to Edwards. His perfroamnce on the drivers license issue was outrageous, despicable, base AND doubletalk.

    I learned a lot about Edwards there. He is a doubletalking jerk willing to play to the bigots.

    You and I best not discuss Edwards. You will only be offended.


    Judges (none / 0) (#21)
    by Populista on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 10:04:34 PM EST
    Are hugely important and it's a big reason I like Obama.

    Why? Because he went to Harvard Law, was editor of the Harvard Law review. But while he was at Harvard, who was his teacher, who called him one of the best students I've ever had and who appeared in a ad for him?

    Laurence Tribe.

    Tribe is probably the most important liberal legal figure in the country. He also is supported by Eric Holder who is a key figure in the ACS.

    Really you should look into Obama's law background. It's quite impressive.

    All is right with the world. BTD (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 11:25:47 PM EST
    is back on track.